Make a Cat in the Hat Costume Your Kids Will Be Proud Of

Give your free time creative purpose

Go all out on your kid’s book character outfit with this unique Cat in the Hat costume.

And when I say all out, I mean all out, because no other Cat in the Hat costume has spring-loaded pop-up cats!

Yes, tug a pull-cord on the side of the hat and out pops 3 little cats. So cool, you’re kid will definitely be asked to stand up in school assembly!

Boy wearing a Cat in the Hat costume
Where are the cats?
Boy wearing a Cat in the Hat costume
Ah, there they are!
Boy wearing a Cat in the Hat costume

What will I learn?

1) Once in a while it’s worth investing a bit more time and effort in making your kid’s a costume… just to create those special memories.

2) Carboard is way more versatile than you think… with a bit of ingenuity it can even be used to make simple mechanical contraptions.

3) Working to a fixed brief… such as ‘make a book character costume’… helps focus your creativity and efforts in a way open briefs sometimes don’t.

Step by step guide

I’ve provided instructions for a hat with a simple hinged lid the kids can open and shut by hand, as well as the more complex pull-cord version.

To get the artwork for the Cats in the Hat and Bow tie subscribe below - they were drawn by me, based on Dr. Seuss’s original drawings.

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Printable artwork

Sorry, these instructions are looooong… let’s make a start…

Measure size
How to make a Cat in the Hat costume: illustration 1

Trim a sheet of A2 white card (210gsm) to a height of 315mm, leave the length as it is (1). Roll the card into a tube and fit it onto the wearers head, mark the length with a pencil (2).

Red stripes
How to make a Cat in the Hat costume: illustration 2

Add 20mm for an overlap and then trim, apply glue along the overlap and reform the tube (3). Cut 3 strips of red card 62mm wide and long enough to wrap around the tube (4). Glue them around the tube at even intervals (5).

Hat lid
How to make a Cat in the Hat costume: illustration 3

Place the tube onto a piece of corrugated card and trace around it using a pencil (6). Use a compass to neaten the circle (7). Cut it out and adjust it until it fits within the tube (8).

How to make a Cat in the Hat costume: illustration 4

Use a ruler and compass to mark out the centre shape as shown (9) and cut it out using a craft knife. Glue the remaining ring (10) onto more white card (to cover up the beige cardboard) and cut around with a craft knife (11).

How to make a Cat in the Hat costume: illustration 5

Now glue the ring into the top of the tube (12). Cut out a circle of white card the diameter of the lid (13), add a fold and glue the one end onto the lid (14).

Hat rim
How to make a Cat in the Hat costume: illustration 6

Draw 3 concentric circles onto white card - one the diamter of the tube, one 38mm bigger and one 15mm smaller (15). Cut around the inner and outer circles and then snip the inside ring into lots of small tabs (16). Fold the tabs up, apply glue, and attach to the inside of the hat  (17).

Cats in hat
How to make a Cat in the Hat costume: illustration 7

This is the simple version, for ‘spring-loaded cats’ jump to step (21).

Create a small box from corrugated cardboard (15) and glue it to the bottom of the lid flap (16). Print the ‘cats in the hat’ artwork onto white card and cut it out. Fold the ‘cats’ in half and glue the top half onto the box (17). .

Red bow
How to make a Cat in the Hat costume: illustration 8

Print the ‘bow’ artwork onto red card (18). Use hot glue to attach two paper clips to the reverse side (19). Cut a long rubber band in half and tie one end to one of the clips, tie the other end to a paperclip fashioned into a hook (20).

Pull-cord version
How to make a Cat in the Hat costume: illustration 9

The key to this approach is a spring-loaded hinge that opens up the Cats in the Hat drawing when the lid is opened by pulling a cord.

How to make a Cat in the Hat costume: illustration 10

Start by glueing one half of a lolly stick onto two strips of corrugated card and glue to the bottom of the lid flap (23).

How to make a Cat in the Hat costume: illustration 11

Now make a small box from corrugated cardboard (24). Attach a separate corrugated card flap by glueing on a ‘paper hinge’ (a strip of thin card creased down the middle), this helps the flap to move freely (25).

Glue a lolly stick onto the inside of the flap, overlapping the hinge (26). Construct a rounded ramp from thin card (210gsm) and glue it onto the top of the lolly stick. Attach an elastic band with hot glue to the top of the lolly stick, run it over the ramp, and ‘lock’ it into a slit in the bottom of the box.

Important: You must also add a corrugated cardboard ‘spacer shelf’ to push out the elastic band. This improves the leverage.

How to make a Cat in the Hat costume: illustration 12

Finally, glue the ‘hinge box’ onto the inside of the lid flap, over the top of the lolly stick lever (27).

How to make a Cat in the Hat costume: illustration 13

Use hot glue to attach a paperclip halfway up the inside front of the hat (28). Now run the thread pull cord through a hole in the back of the hat, through the paperclip loop and glue it onto the bottom of the lolly stick. Continue the thread to the side of the hat and secure with more glue, this short section will prevent the stick being pulled beyond the vertical position (29).

How to make a Cat in the Hat costume: illustration 14

Print the ‘cat in the hat’ artwork onto white card and cut it out. Fold it in half (inline with the middle cat’s tummy) and then bend it backwards and forwards to ‘loosen’ the fold. Glue the TOP of the card onto the TOP flat of the ‘hinge’, ensuring the fold is inline with the centre of the hinge.

You should now be able to fold the picture in half and close the lid. Pulling on the cord will now open the lid, and once the top half of the picture is free of the hat’s rim, it ahould spring open!

Hopefully this is enough detail to get you going!

Materials

  • A2 sheet of white and red card (210gsm)
  • Corrugated cardboard box
  • 1 lolly stick (for the pull cord version)
  • Paper glue
  • Scissors and craft knife
  • Ruler, pencil and compass

Give it your own unique twist

Projects like this are tricky to follow exactly, so don’t be scared to improvise. Basically the hat is a tube of card, start there, and make the rest up as you go. Good luck!

Written by
Photo of Scott Bedford
Scott Bedford

Maker, Illustrator and Author